An IEC 61131-3 standard soft PLC is being launched by Copa-Data that supports the Profinet standard for real-time communications over Ethernet hardware. An advantage of Profinet is that it uses standard CAT5 cables and connectors, compared to the expensive connectors and termination required by Profibus. Using the Straton soft PLC from Copa-Data, control engineers can reduce system costs further by replacing dedicated fieldbus hardware with a 'soft' Profinet server, without any loss of performance.
Following the announcement of the German association of automotive manufacturers (AIDA) that Profinet would be its new standard for manufacturing, Copa-Data was asked by its numerous automotive customers to support Profinet. For example, BMW, which uses the company's zenOn SCADA/HMI software exclusively for all areas of plant worldwide, now requires a gateway to collect data from its plant.
The Soft PLC can, of course, be programmed to control in its own right; however' there are other advantages of soft logic. Straton is integrated
off-the-shelf into zenOn SCADA software, providing a ready-made system to serve project data to the SCADA system. This Profinet gateway functionality is provided in the forthcoming release of zenOn 6.21, for all Windows and Windows CE platforms.
Profinet IO RT communication was first demonstrated in operation at the SPS/IPC/DRIVES fair in Nuremberg at the end of 2006. A 200m long Ethernet link was set up between a Copa-Data hosted Straton soft PLC acting as a Profinet controller (master) and a WAGO hosted Profinet I/O device (slave). The Straton runtime controlled the WAGO I/O modules successfully, resulting in a display of blinking digital outputs controlled by the remote Straton PLC.
Profinet IO RT is the factory automation component of Profinet that
provides classic fieldbus-level operation and replaces Profibus. In the
new terminology, the new driver operates as a Profinet IO controller
(master). Using a powerful tool within Straton, the user can browse the
Profinet network and parameterise the devices using GSDML (Generic
Station Description Markup Language) files.